25/03/2019

๐Ÿธ Review: Red Strings Club "Make Mine Strong, Sour and Soul-Searching, Barkeep" ๐Ÿน @Deconstructeam #GameDev #IndieGame

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Developer: Deconstructeam

Platform Reviewed: Switch

Rating: Ice Cool

A cyberpunk adventure set mostly inside a bar where the main draw is an expertly told story that makes the player question their own motivations and values with some cocktail-making and industrial espionage thrown in?

Sign me up.

The titular Red Strings Club is an old-fashioned bar in a worryingly close future setting. The main character, Donovan, is an expert bartender who has the uncanny ability to hone in on his patrons’ emotions through his mixology skills, causing them to spill the proverbial beans on various topics. This comes in handy as Donovan not only makes a mean Old Fashioned…but is also an information broker.

The visuals are of the classic point and click pixelated sort and, whilst the game only takes place in a handful of locations, each is rendered with a clear love and is not only striking but memorable. Audio-wise, it’s a great mix of music which is scene and character-driven, alternating depending on the conversations and location. This is a soundtrack I would like to own on vinyl.
It’s hard to talk about too much of the plot without giving away spoilers but I can say that the game is very much driven by dialogue choices and mini-games and honestly, I’m struggling to think of another example where mini-games tied so seamlessly with the story itself and didn’t only not feel like thrown-in additions to add the illusion of gameplay but were actually fun to complete (they also don’t outstay their welcome). From mixing up cocktails to glean sensitive information from key characters and using futuristic pottery to craft implants that alter people’s way of thought, the game is always coming up with a new twist as the narrative moves forward.

In regards to the narrative, whilst there’s nothing too out of the cyberpunk ordinary here in the overall thrust of the tale, the journey of the story itself really stands out in how it genuinely caused me to pause for thought at several points, not only in how I’d obtain certain items of info from people but in one especially understated and yet very, very clever sequence I actually felt as unsure of my own moral compass as the character I was playing. It really made me question my own views and prejudices in a subtle way.
Summary
The Red Strings Club is a unique game that completely nails what it sets out to do, entertain you and make you think.

Whilst the dialogue flows and each character is memorable and well-rounded, it’s never dense or lost in its own lore, as can happen in the genre.

I know it’s only March but I would really be surprised if this doesn’t make my GOTY list.

Idiosyncratic, fun, thoughtful and well-designed…I think I’ll have a cocktail to celebrate.



❄️ RATING: ICE COOL ❄️๐Ÿ’ง

Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Recommended with reservations, one to consider if you are a fan of the genre)
MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)

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